Monday, April 26, 2010

Now Over $3 Per

The "experts" predicted we would top $3 per gallon for regular gasoline by Memorial Day. Some even said the prices had topped out. I knew better, predicting on my radio program, that we would top $3 per long before Memorial Day. Well, here we are, five weeks before Memorial Day and I spent $3.04 per gallon for regular. So much for the economic recovery.

Anyone who thinks we are on the road to recovery is deluding themselves. At best, the recovery has been fragile, jobless and underwritten by deficit spending at the national level and budget gimmickry at the state and municipal level. Now that we've topped $3 per gallon, you can expect the tumbling act to begin.

$3 per gallon is not only a pricey figure but a psychological one. A consumer sees $3 per gallon and suddenly decides to cut back on driving, going out to a restaurant or even holding back on that extra cup of coffee. $3 per gallon hits you like a slap in the face, when you pull into the convenience store to "fill 'er up." $3 per gallon will have a reverberating effect, because unlike the last time we saw numerous price spikes, businesses will not wait to pass the cost along to consumers.

Two years ago, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal promised an investigation into high gasoline prices. How's it going? In 2006, as Democrats fought to regain control of Congress, they attacked the Bush administration, because gasoline prices had topped $3 per gallon and promised hearings and investigations, if they won power. They are now into their fourth year of power. When do the hearings and investigations start?

This country can promote mass transportation all it wants, but Americans love their cars and SUV's. The outcry will begin any day now, because Americans have a difficult time with $3 per gallon. And it's still five weeks before Memorial Day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's What He Doesn't Say, That Counts

As usual, with Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, you have to listen to what he doesn't say to determine, where he stands on the issue. He has become a master of the trick, in his long tenure as AG, but the glare of a U.S. Senate campaign is shining light on how he operates.

Earlier this week, campaign fundraising reports were released by the candidates, and as it turns out, Blumenthal accepted at least $118,000 in PAC money, leading to a crescendo of criticism from his opponents. Blumenthal, in his own words, was constantly repeated, from his interview on MSNBC, one day after he announced his Senate candidacy.

"I've never taken PAC money. I've rejected special interest money because I've stood strong and have taken legal action against many of those special interests," Blumenthal said.

Now comes word, the "Blumenthal for Senate" campaign has taken money from the Senate PACs of Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Patrick Leahy and AFLAC, the insurance company. When the Linda McMahon campaign cried foul, noting his MSNBC comments, Blumenthal's people were quick to respond.

"Given what we've learned about Linda McMahon, it's laughable for her to question Dick Blumenthal's integrity...The people of Connecticut know Dick Blumenthal will take on powerful interests and fight tirelessly for them in the Senate," said his campaign chairman Michael Cacace.

Blumenthal maintains that "integrity" by what he did not say. While creating the illusion of not accepting PAC money, Blumenthal never stated in the MSNBC interview he would not take PAC money as a Senate candidate, and his chairman never addressed the PAC issue in his comments, instead taking the opportunity to criticize McMahon's personal fortune to underwrite her campaign.

In examining Blumenthal, one must always listen to what he does not say. By scrutinizing his campaign contributions, you can make the case a vote for Dick Blumenthal is a vote for three of the Senate's biggest liberals, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Patrick Leahy and a company, who's trademark is a duck. In other words, a vote for Blumenthal won't be what it's quacked up to be.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Inclusive Party?

I thought the Democrat Party billed itself as the inclusive party, the party that included all factions, then ironed out its differences and paraded out a united front?

Apparently not. Just ask Merrick Alpert, the "other" candidate for the U.S. Senate Democrat Party nomination in Connecticut. He's battling the overwhelming favorite, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Alpert cannot even get the time of day from his party hierarchy. His crime? Having the unmitigated gall to partake in the democratic process by seeking public office.

Democrat State Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo all but ignores him. While Blumenthal receives special treatment, with "verbal" permission to run a Senate campaign office out of Democrat state party central in Hartford - the type of cozy arrangement, Blumenthal would investigate as AG - DiNardo remains mum, except to instruct Democrat town committees to thwart Alpert's ambitions. The party establishment is operating at full speed.

Alpert, who has served his country in Bosnia, is hoping to gather the 15 percent of party delegates at next month's convention, to insure a primary. If he fails that, he plans to gather enough petitions to force a primary against the long time establishment candidate Blumenthal. He may become the Democrats worst nightmare. In the two joint appearances he made with Blumenthal, he outperformed the AG, in style, preparation and articulation. His only fault is not being part of the establishment.

On Monday night, he turned out to be the smartest Democrat in the state. While party fatcats were giving Blumenthal a standing ovation at the annual Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey dinner, Alpert chose to ignore the event, donating the $175 a pop it cost to hear Blumy and others speak to a soup kitchen. It may be the best $175, he ever spent.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Larson Plays While You Work

As you slog to work today, amid rain and wind, in Connecticut's first congressional district and elsewhere, just remember that your congressman is holding a $5,000 a pop campaign fundraiser in Napa Valley wine country. (Apparently the wine industry in his home state, doesn't deserve his business.)

The congressman hails from the same Democratic party, that has its nose out of joint over a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld an entity's first amendment rights to donate to campaigns. The Democrats say that portion of the private sector's money is bad for politics. But it is okay for a congressman to arrange fundraisers in wine country, arrange for a donor to witness Boston Red Sox batting practice - for a price, of course - and utilize other connections to garner greenbacks, all in the name of "creating a more perfect union," to borrow one of Larson's favorite lines.

Larson defenders, who love to slam the Republican party of being the party for the rich and famous, will remind us the donation actually goes to the political action committee Synergy and that it is the price of doing business. Except Synergy is Larson's PAC, allowing him to funnel money - some would say launder - to any political candidate, whose political agenda coincides with his.

The Democrats have controlled the Congress for six years and could have changed the system. And we wonder why there is a vast disconnect between our Washington and Hartford politicians and the public.

So as you work to make ends meet in this terrible economy, remember, donors are apparently forgetting about carbon footprints and winging out to Napa, remember that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her aide-de-camp, Connecticut Congressman John Larson, will be tossing back cabernet in wine country this weekend, all in the name of a "more perfect union."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Whole Story Stinks

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz should end her run for Attorney General and take a leave from politics, now. This entire legal hassle over whether she qualifies, under the state constitution, to be AG, has become a sham.

We now know, through her deposition, that she has never authored a brief, been in a courtroom - since becoming a lawyer - to watch a trial, give legal arguments or question a witness. Yet, she is claiming to have practiced law for 10 years, thus meeting the qualifications for the job?

Even more disturbing is that she has taken free legal advice from the law firm of Updike, Kelly and Spellacy to prepare her case. How this passes legal muster, as the ethics and elections officials claim, is beyond me. Also, we have learned that she has taken legal advice from attorneys on her Secretary of the State staff. Did she do that on state time? Shouldn't she be charged? And for that matter, is she taking vacation time to give her depositions and make her subsequent court appearances, or is it on the taxpayers' dime. Because, let's face it, if she's in court or a lawyer's office, during the day, she is not on her job as Secretary of the State. And an explanation that she has a capable staff to cover for her, while she is away, doesn't cut it. You try being paid on the job, while appearing in court to advance your career opportunities.

The entire story stinks and Bysiewicz should end the charade pronto!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Stop The Bullying

I cannot get the suicide of Phoebe Prince out of my mind. But for the grace of God, this could be any child. In January, the 15-year-old South Hadley High School student, the victim of intense bullying from "classmates," hanged herself. The case is receiving nationwide attention this week, because Mass. District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel indicted nine South Hadley High School students for their alleged part in this sad story.

Meanwhile, school administrators and the district's school superintendent, Gus A. Sayer, are coming under heavy criticism for their handling of the case. Sayer, who cut short a California vacation to return to the Commonwealth, is defending teachers and administrators involved in the story. That's understandable. An entire school administration, under his watch, has been placed on trial in this case.

Connecticut has taken steps to stop bullying, passing laws to address the problem. That doesn't mean bullying doesn't occur. According to The Governor's Prevention Partnership, almost one in three Connecticut high school students "report having been the target of bullying in the past 12 months."

Next week, with numerous school administrators in the audience, and all day seminar on the topic will be held in Farmington. Although Connecticut may be in the vanguard on this issue, a nationwide discussion must follow. And it deserves to be examined from all sides, including cyberbullying. Numerous questions need to be asked. What are the parents roll in all of this? What's the difference between normal adolescent behavior and bullying? And can we tackle this problem with current resources? Because, let's face it, as a state and nation, we are financially tapped out.

Some officials will use this sobering topic to demand more taxpayers' money. But a caller to my radio program yesterday, a "Suzanne in Bristol," said she and other parents stepped forward to offer an innovative program to address bullying 10 years ago, without using taxpayers' money. It will require this sort of creative thinking to underwrite a safe environment for our children. The teenage demographic is filled with innate obstacles. And we spend billions on education. But students should not feel threatened, when attending school.

Passing the buck on the South Hadley case - and that is what officials seem to be doing in that town - is unacceptable. A national discourse needs to start now. We owe it to the memory of Phoebe Prince.